Good news in politics needs to be celebrated, so cheers to the new legislators of New York State, who helped their veteran Democratic colleagues pass long-needed voting reform yesterday — their first day on the job!
Everyone thinks of New York as liberal, but that’s the city, honey! This is a big state and we’ve got rural areas that are as red as can be. For years, the state senate was in the hands of Republicans thanks, in part, to the help of eight fake Democrats. As I wrote in September, this little gang of DINOs (Democrats In Name Only) who went by the name of the “Independent Democratic Conference (IDC)” got away with it because people just didn’t pay attention. The IDC counted on a thought process that you might recognize if you’re a New Yorker: “It’s too hard to get to the polls on Election Day, I don’t know anything about state politics, and, hey, this Democrat is going to win anyway.” The problem is, what if the Democrat you were counting on is a Republican on the down-low? Let Edie Falco explain it.
After the disastrous presidential election in 2016, progressive New Yorkers who hoped their state might protect them from some of the federal government’s bad moves were shocked and appalled to find out that the legislature was useless. A “No IDC NY” movement was formed with the goal of running real Democrats against the fake ones and flipping the state senate in 2018. We succeeded: Six of the eight IDC members lost their seats, including the leader, Jeff Klein, who spent more than $2 million trying to fend off first-time candidate Alessandra Biaggi.
Among the legislation that Jeff and pals helped block was voter reform — and, hello, New York’s voting laws hadn’t been updated in over 100 years! That’s why New Yorkers had 15 hours in one workday to vote, while 37 other states plus Washington, D.C., allowed early voting for weeks before the deadline of Election Day. As the nonpartisan organization Let NY Vote pointed out, people in Louisiana had 99 more hours to vote than New Yorkers did — the equivalent of 258 Seinfeld episodes. (I checked: Seinfeld ran for nine years but only had 180 damn episodes, so you’d have to be watching reruns of reruns while Louisiana folks voted.) As a result, New York managed to have the fourth most registered voters in the 50 states yet was the eighth WORST state for voter turnout in 2016.
The legislation that was passed yesterday by the new, genuinely Democratic state legislature — and now goes to Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign into law — authorizes:
- Early voting
- Consolidation of federal and state primaries into one day
- Portability of voter registration when moving within the state
- Pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds.
Mail-in voting and same-day registration also were approved but those require amendments to the state constitution, so that will take a few more years.
On their second day, the legislators passed a bill protecting transgender people from discrimination — a feat that had been attempted for 16 years in vain.
So, you can see that big things are happening in New York because people (a) got educated and (b) turned out to vote last year. Never think you can’t make a difference! And if you ever feel that kind of despair, remind yourself that the politicians you hate the most are HAPPY you feel that way because as long as you stay disconnected, they stay in power. Don’t make hateful people happy! If you missed my video from November about how even one vote can make a difference, check it out now.